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Opening Arguments

Here's what you think!

On the other hand, if this is the best the professional journalists have to offer -- a lazy exercise in divining what Americans think will happen in 2007 -- perhaps we are better off to let YouTube visitors do the sorting for us. Did the people who put this together stop and think that their standard disclaimer put on this story comes very close to self-parody? "The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos, an international polling firm. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points." A sampling error? Does that mean that Americans are plus or minus 3 points likely  to have their predictions turn out right, or that there is a plus or minus 3 points that they were lying, or what, exactly? I look forward to the followup story saying Americans are brilliant or extremely dimwitted based on how their predictions actually fare. Oh, and loved this bit:

25 percent anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ.

19 percent think scientists are likely to find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

And if you don't like the AP story linked to above, which is rather gloomy about Americans' view of the future:

Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans' grim predictions for the United States in 2007.

You can instead read a completely different AP story with a completely different take on Americans' views:

Looking ahead, optimism reigns.

Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.

Both stories, one of bitter gloom, one of rosy optimism, were based on the same poll of 1,000 people. Pick your mood and read the story that makes you feel the best.

Posted in: Current Affairs


Steve Towsley
Tue, 01/02/2007 - 5:07pm

> 25 percent anticipate the second coming of
>Jesus Christ.

> 19 percent think scientists are likely to
>find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

If one does the math on the margin of sampling error, then as few as 22% may anticipate the second coming while as many as 22% may anticipate scientific evidence of living space aliens.

So the number of believers is virtually even. These two beliefs are certainly not mutually exclusive, remember, except perhaps in some fundamentalist religious factions.

But I submit that one could make a pretty good essay (or even a thesis?) out of that little comparative factoid.

You can all heave a sigh of relief, because I'm not inclined to do so here and now.... Happy New Year.